Notable Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian
“I feel physically tired after watching that. Like all the running and fighting, I’m dead man.” – Random Friend
Apparently that’s what The Raid: Redemption does to some people. Physically I could breathe after viewing, but WOW did Evans’ action masterpiece metaphorically take every ounce of my breath away. A flurry of punches, kicks, machetes, and bullets chaotically overload the screen a joyously large portion of the film, but via the beauty unleashed in controlled chaos. You NEVER want to take your eyes away from such poetic choreography outlining each fight, bum rushing our senses with non-stop unadulterated top-tier quality action. No flashy costumes, no quirky dialogue, no tremendous plot twists. None. The Raid: Redemption utilizes expert Silat martial arts work from the Indonesian culture, which is already a fast and furious art form, preventing your elevated pulse from ever evening out. I mean, I’m at a loss for words right now; holy @*$& The Raid: Redemption kicked ass unseen for years. I mean that. I personally have not seen an action film as simplistically engaging and adrenaline pumping ferocious in many, many, many years. For anyone finding remote enjoyment around the action genre or martial arts, The Raid: Redemption is a “you must watch ASAP” kind of treat featuring relentless enjoyment and profuse reactionary smiling. If you’re still reading this and have yet to see Redemption…then go! What are you waiting for! C’mon! Do it! Do it now! Ya, C’mon!! (Can’t write an action review without referencing Predator now, c’mon.)
Plot wise, The Raid: Redemption is extremely straight forward. One rainy morning a SWAT team is tasked with infiltrating a towering tenement and extracting the local drug kingpin. Filled with gangsters and thugs, this squad has their work cut out for sure. Upon entering the 6th floor, one of many spotters alerts the building guards police have arrived, cueing an epic battle for justice. Trapped in the building, our SWAT team must fight an onslaught of henchmen just to stay alive, while attempting to press on and complete their mission. But with mounting casualties and no home field advantage, at what point do the officers call it quits and make a break for safety? Being caught in the line of duty is an understatement, fighting wave after wave of kung fu equipped thugs.
Those guns get thrown out real fast…
Now here’s the question: Are The Raid: Redemption‘s baddies that inept, or is every SWAT member the Indonesian equivalent of Bruce Lee. Answer: Fighting any one of these actors would be a death sentence. Yayan Ruhain (Mad Dog) and Iko Uwais (Rama) log Fight Coordinator credits for their supervision on all action scenes, and boy did these two embrace a fantastic opportunity. Delivering equally gripping and ass-kicking performances for The Raid: Redemption, both actors and specialists keep the pedal pressed against the floor while our hearts pound with excitement. Visually I hold the infamous hallway fight scene carried out in Oldboy somewhere amongst the best in fight choreography, but The Raid: Redemption brings equal intensity and beauty to every single battle instigated, if not more. The mixture of speed, execution, and ability blows away all competition, as some sequences seem to carry on longer than the accompanying plot points. Sure, inevitably in segments authenticity comes into question, as fights get caught in the magic of Hollywood and turn our characters into indestructible warriors. Pointing to one particular fight, a character has his head slammed against a concrete floor so many times his brains probably should have been scrambled eggs, but fights on like the floor were made of pillows. Or the always ignored “characters breaking into full sprint after taking numerous hits to legs with no lingering injuries” notion, which has at this point just become part of action films. But where lesser films mistakenly let us notice such mistakes, The Raid: Redemption never breaks momentum long enough to let logic catch up with our tantalizing action. Which freakin’ ruled. Getting passed that tiny little blip, these action scenes will have fans salivating enough to drown the whole damn theater. Moves and combos continuously flow as combatants fly around like Kung Fu monkeys and superior athleticism is showcased. But the beauty, now that was a sight to behold. Fighting was comparable to theatrics more than badassery; every punch as fluid as the last. Uwais and Ruhain are the Beethoven and Chopin of brutality. I could sit here and draw comparisons between The Raid and other accomplishments of elegance, but it all comes back to video game culture for me. Watching Evans’ beat-em-up instant classic parallels fighting through super fun button mashing gameplay in which numerous special combos can be executed by a character. Stringing together seven kills into one flowing movement feels so much more accomplished than a simple street brawl full of punches and kicks. Enough explanation. The Raid: Redemption rules the yard with an iron fist, hands down.
Evans’ direction brings an endearing complexity in terms of style, while keeping filler short and sweet. The Raid: Redemption has a significant strength in terms of action, and is smart enough not to squander such power. Much like a horror film utilizing loads of impressive gore and skimping on story, The Raid: Redemption has an entertainment factor through the roof and rocketed into the stratosphere. And in no means am I accusing the story of being “bad.” No, in fact the story is perfect in the sense there is Point A and Point B…with a whole lot of goodness found in between. Anything possibly considered a twist can easily be predicted from the start, not really warranting any surprise. But again, ask me if I care. Because I don’t, and nor should you. Action junkies can have their cake and eat it too, only to happily discover the cake was baked with the most decadent ingredients known to man and by a world renown baker. But no, Evans still wasn’t done delighting after the credits had rolled. The almighty cherry on top came weeks ago in the declaration that The Raid would be developed into a trilogy, meaning two more installments are to follow. Can someone pinch me?
Final Rating: 8.5 beyond kick-ass cops out of 10
Still don’t like my chances even if he is handcuffed…